About half way through my first year as a mom, I had a conversation with my friend Alyssa. You may recognize Alyssa from her blog Chocolate is MY LIFE as well as her fantastic Postpartum Survival Guide for the C-Section Delivery. She’s a pretty smart gal and has the most adorable baby boy named Dalton, who is a few months younger than A (he seriously has some of the most epic lashes ever!).
Alyssa and I were talking about the ins and out of parenting and what we’ve learned. Our joys. And of course, our fears. Because let’s not sugar-coat it; being a parent is scary. For a variety of reasons.
I mean think about it. You’re in the hospital and you are in this safe little cocoon where you press a button and these amazing nurses come and help you change your baby’s diaper and confirm that black poop is a thing (and not a bad thing!). For some people, they will even take your baby so that you can get a little rest. How awesome to have a team of medical professionals willing to watch your baby so you can get little rest after the madness that is childbirth. You also have lactation consultants who come and help you when breastfeeding sucks.
Then after a day or five, they unleash you out into the world with a car seat and a dream. That, my friends, is when shit gets real and you go from the circle of trust to “oh-my-gosh, she’s been in the rock-n-play for 30 seconds. Is she breathing??” You once again over-analyze poop. You ugly cry when you when you nick your two month old’s finger while cutting her nails and she bleeds for 35 years/10 minutes.
You now have a huge responsibility. You have to keep another human being alive, and I’m not refe1rring to those crazy nights in college when you held you best friends hair while she puked up an entire night’s worth of keg stands. Keeping your tiny human alive is a major thing. This teeny little person depends on you for everything. Imagine that.
Getting back to Alyssa’s and my conversation. She was able to articulate something that I’d been thinking about but couldn’t find the right words to share. This is that the scariest thing about being a parent is not the tasks. Yes, you do need to keep this amazing little human alive, but babies needs are basic. They eat, sleep, poop and need love. Once you figure out the basics, the rest happens and you get more confident and take it all as it comes.
The scariest thing about being a parent is the fact that it is up to you to turn your baby into a good person. To raise your child to be a contributing member of society. To instill integrity and show them how to be kind to others. To teach them to give more than they take and bring good into the world.
I’ve never been a parent before. I’ve been around a bunch of great parents, specifically my own and J’s along with a ton of extended family and friends. And what excellent examples they’ve set! But at the end of the day it is primarily up to J and I to make sure that A grows up to be a good person.
This is something I’ve been thinking about for a super long time. It becomes more and more prevalent in my mind, especially now that A is older and is like a little sponge in the way that she is taking everything in and learning more each day. What if I screw up? What if she develops the same sailor-style mouth that I have? In my heart I know I’m a good person, but I have a ton of areas that could use some improvement. What if some of those areas rub off on A?
While there are times where these concerns really bother and worry me, I try not to spend a ton of time worrying because life is short. I have a sweet little girl to focus on, who is growing by leaps and bounds right before my very eyes.
Now, I’m no expert. I’ve only been at this parenting thing for a little over a year. But the way I see it, you do the very best you can. Lead by example and be open and honest when you are less than perfect. You can only do what you can do and you can only control a few aspects. Just do your best.
Alyssa also brought up a great point, which I try to remind myself of when I start to second guess things. During our conversation, she also said that the fact that we were even concerned about raising a good person, is a great start and says a lot. And I agree.
So my point is, cut yourself some slack Mama (and Dad!). Do the best you can and have a little (a lot of!) faith.
What scares you about being a parent?
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